Murphy’s Law

Alternative Title: How a dirtbike makes my horse go lame

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So grateful to have this nose to kiss

I’ve calmed down since Saturday when it initially happened. I had a pretty icky ride on Thursday and intended to ride Friday… only we ended up having 35mph winds so I didn’t. Our lesson that night was canceled. I was definitely riding Saturday, although a series of unfortunate events prevented me yet again from seeing my horse in the daylight and I made it out there at almost 8pm. I was supposed to have a lesson Sunday to make up for the miss on Friday.

Here’s the setup to help explain the situation and what I think happened.

Nibbles has been in a tiny quarantine pasture since she arrived on 2/12. That’s standard protocol for 10 days which I appreciate. Temperatures were actually above freezing last week which means the ground became extremely muddy extremely quickly. Not ideal, but I figured she only had a couple more days left and she’d be introduced to the small mare herd.

On Thursday, Nibbles was completely sound. I always check legs when I bring a horse in and she was clean and tight. On Friday, I didn’t make it out but the farrier trimmed her and I’m assuming he would have noticed if she had heat/swelling in any legs. I suppose that’s a big assumption but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me…

On Saturday, it was 55 degrees and sunny. Lately, if it hit 35 degrees, that’s considered a heat wave. One of the barn owner’s children (their family lives on the property) decided to ride his mini dirt bike around the horse pastures.

Let me stop there. Does anyone else have an issue with that? Because I  do. I understand, you live there, your kids want to play outside… but in what universe is it a good idea to ride a dirtbike in and around horse pastures?

So apparently the barn hands saw this and saw Nibbles running around her paddock. Mind you, this paddock is tiny so she really couldn’t canter more than 4 strides fenceline to fenceline. Again, we have several inches of mud. What’s more, the kid continued to ride his bike and my horse ended up slipping and falling in the mud. No one called me, no one checked her as far as I know.

I get there at 8pm and bring her in to the cross ties. At this point, I have no idea about the dirtbike or running or slipping. No one has said anything to me. She was a little sluggish but not lame so no alarms were going off. Like I always do, I check her legs. Three legs are warm and have minor swelling. No bows or malformations but clearly inflamed. It’s at this point the barn hand (who is a young girl, maybe not even in high school yet) tells me about the dirt bike and the slipping. I’m dumbfounded.

My husband came with me to the barn so I had him trot Nibbles out for me. She was sound albeit a little pokey. It was cold at this point and there is no indoor washrack so I opted to rub her down and have them bute her. Needless to say, I didn’t ride or even lunge her. I put her back out in her tiny pasture although I wasn’t happy about it.

I go out on Sunday afternoon after an extremely busy morning. I bring her in and her legs are slightly cooler and definitely less swollen. So much so that I honestly thought maybe I’ll do some in-hand/lunge work today because I didn’t come dressed to ride. I bring her into the indoor to hand walk and my heart sinks. She has a head bob. Not bad, but you can definitely see it. The BO was in there cleaning up and agreed with me; she saw it too.

I’m bummed and unwilling to put her back out in the mud. The BO says I can put her in a different quarantine pasture. This one is bone dry, has virtually no grass, and has no run-in. Not ideal but was better to me than 6-8″ of mud. I slathered her in Sore No More and put her back out (mind you, she’s on 24/7 pasture board). I asked them to give her another gram of bute with her breakfast and explained I would be back out on Monday after work to check her. I told her that if she was still off, I would be calling the vet.

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LF on Monday. Do you see swelling? Click to enlarge

On Monday evening after work, I check her again. Swelling is almost non-existent, head bob is gone at the walk but present ever so slightly at the trot. I slather her once more in poultice and decide to go ahead and call the vet. I highly doubt she’ll even be off by the time he gets here next Monday but I explained the situation. I wanted to have him out to adjust her anyway so I need the appointment even if she’s sound by then.

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LH on Monday. Tiny bit of swelling in the suspensory IMO. Click to enlarge

Obviously, this puts a dent in our riding plans, hopefully only for the short term. Mostly I’m just glad she’s gradually improving and there doesn’t appear to be any acute injury. I can pick up all four legs, stretch them, flex her joints – no negative reaction. Long story short, she’ll be fine. (knocks on every piece of wood)

Am is it unreasonable to think dirtbikes should not be a thing in close proximity with horses? Of even if they are, if you see horses running, shouldn’t you be stopped by the adult who should be supervising you?

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16 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law

  1. Stephanie says:

    Ugh, that SUPER sucks! I don’t think it’s unreasonable for an adult to ask the kid on the dirtbike to stop riding it (or at least ride elsewhere) if it’s clearly freaking some horses out!

    Hope Nibbles heals quickly!

  2. Heather says:

    I wouldn’t have a problem with the dirtbikes, assuming the horses were used to it. But if one of the horses was upset, it would make sense that the kid would be asked to stop, or at least ride elsewhere. When she fell, you definitely should have been called. But I would assume they didn’t want to call, because then you would be mad about the bikes. Hopefully she’s back to normal soon!

  3. aHorseForElinor says:

    Oh oh oh, I’m so sorry! OK, first, don’t panic about it. She’s a young horse, she strained herself, especially with the mud and the tiny area to get all UP in. Hopefully she wasn’t super terrified and tore her self up, just really agitated, and took the dirtbikes as a signal to go crazy, like most of our young horses do when all pent up.
    I DO think that dirtbike riding can be combined around CALM horses, but usually NOT in a public boarding area, especially not in tight quarters, or where there are new horses present. A little backyard set up where the mounts are all used to it, sure, but if you’re going to charge good money to feed and keep my horse, you really ought to realize that certain activities simply can’t be done…
    Well, don’t freak out.
    This happened last summer to me when I boarded for a month at a much busier place. First night, another mare broke into my mares paddock and wasn’t found until the next morning. Within two days she had a HUGE swollen hock. A kick, or going down. I hosed, iced, rubbed and handwalked gently after the first 3 days to hep the swelling, and it all turned out OK.
    Hoping the same for you!!

  4. needforsteed says:

    Ugggh! The exact same thing happened to me a year ago. Shiloh ended up with his right hind blown up the next morning. After weeks of hosing, poulticing and hand walking, it finally healed to the point where he is sound but it left scar tissue around the tendon sheath. So ridiculous and preventable!

    • Rebecca says:

      How awful!!! That is a nightmare and a half. I’m really hoping now that the swelling is gone, we are not looking at long term damage.

    • Rebecca says:

      It’s just a lack of common sense, you know? Kids should be allowed to play but why was no one watching and why wasn’t I called?

  5. ashequine says:

    Late to the party here and I know you said the swelling is gone now, but yeah, that’s pretty infuriating.

    This is a sore topic for me because this was actually a REALLY common occurrence for me at my last barn. Practically everyday in the summer the propert owners kids would be zooming up and down the driveway or (even more to my annoyance) around the arena. On the one hand, my horse doesn’t give a crap about any motor vehicles anymore, but also she wasnt confined to a small muddy paddock and could escape to her stall of something outside was spooking her. What really annoyed me was when they would ride the dirt bikes past the arena while I was riding. And the trouble really is the parents didn’t care – they weren’t gonna tell the kids to stop or mind the horses. Really frustrating.

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